Just in time for the new year: the cure to clutteritis


Consider these amazing facts:

  • There are 300,000 items in the average home.
  • One quarter of people with two-car garages don’t have room to park their cars inside them.
  • The average 10-year-old has 238 toys but plays with just 12.
  • The average woman owns 30 outfits — a century ago that was just nine.

The message? Our homes are packed to the rafters with a whole lot of stuff! Yet most of us feel so overwhelmed at the prospect of tackling our bad case of clutteritis that we pretend the problem simply doesn’t exist.

But, with a new year on its way, maybe it’s time to clean up our mess. Right? Here are four simple ways to start decluttering right now:

  1. Take 30: Attempting to declutter your entire home is too big a mountain to climb. Start in one place, like your bathroom, and dive in for 30 minutes. Pull everything out of your medicine cabinet and on to the counter, throw out any expired prescriptions, ditch almost empty bottles of moisturizer or perfume or any items you haven’t used in over six months. Wipe down the empty cabinet and re-place your selected items. Sit on the floor, and repeat for the cabinet under the sink. There, that isn’t so hard, is it? If you’re excited and inspired, move on to the drawers or closet in your bedroom. Or tackle the pile of newspapers or magazines in the den. If you’re exhausted, set a reminder for next week and take on one room or closet at a time.
  1. Bag it and take 5: Grab two big trash bags and prowl around. Fill one with old newspapers and magazines, boxes and wrappers, used candles, orphan mitts and socks, and items that, let’s face it, you’re never going to use again. Fill the other with five toys your kids don’t play with anymore, five articles of clothing you don’t wear anymore, five books, CDs or DVDs you’ll never read, listen to or watch anymore and bring this bag to Goodwill or any nearby charity that accepts used items.
  1. Super bowl: No, this has nothing to do with men in helmets and tight pants. Set down a medium sized bowl wherever you enter your home and designate it as the receptacle for keys, sunglasses, gloves, wallets and loose change. Your days of dropping sundry items throughout the house are over!
  1. Teachable moment: If you’re a parent, enlist your kids. Instruct them to spot items of theirs scattered throughout the home — shoes, Game Boy or Nintendo, smartphone, books, clothing, half-eaten snacks, unidentifiable items — and take them to their rooms, or the kitchen or laundry, as the case may be. And warn them that, from now on, if it’s not in their room within 24 hours it disappears forever!

What decluttering tips work best — or worst — for you? Please share your ideas in the Shop Talk Blog community forum!



 Did you know: The Ikea effect

Even as the price of furniture has dropped, we’re spending more on more of it. Yet the rate at which we’re throwing it out has risen only 1/13 as fast — in other words, we’re just hoarding it. (Source)

34 thoughts on “Just in time for the new year: the cure to clutteritis

  1. I have a “thrift store” box in my closet. When I no longer want an item, I put it in the box. When the box is full, I look through it once, then take it to the thrift store. Similarly, I have a box in the storage room for household items. When that box is full, I look through it once, then it goes to the thrift store. Very rarely do I keep back an item; I guess out of sight, out of mind!

  2. I have been keeping the large heavy zippered shopping bags which contain duvets, comforters, blankets, pillows, etc and store comforters, pillows, blankets not being used. This way they are kept clean and ready for use when guests stay over.

  3. Clean as you go… Make rules for each room! Eg. Never put anything on table except food and dishes. Keep up with dishes everyday. If you have no clean clothes, wash them, don’t buy new!! If your bored or stressed,” clean!!” It beats the gym. Routine, routine, routine!!!

  4. you are absolutely right we hoard are possessions and meanwhile we don’t even use or wear half of them this is exactly what I needed to read I can hardly wait to get started on one room at a time thank-you so much

  5. I just wish I knew where to start! Having emptied 3 large storage units of…stuff…that my husband had been collecting, getting rid of 95% to charity, I am left with a finished basement FULL to the brim. Boxes of paper, books and still …. stuff….. where and how to start is my problem!

  6. our health care and enviromental “people” say “do not throw out old prescriptions”,
    the contents can make a toxcin that can get into the water system. if it’s bad for you it will be bad for fish etc.
    take them BACK to the pharmacy

  7. Good advice and one more thing.Don’t fill it all up again by buying things just because they are on sale whether you can ever use them or not.

  8. I am terrible for keeping stuff. I feel bad for getting rid of useless gifts which people loved giving me when I was younger. Mostly dust collector trinkets. I was taught to appreciate every gift and keep it because lots of people out there are not as fortunate as I am. Now I feel overwhelmed by all this.
    When I get ambitious I make three piles by asking myself one question, “Do I need to keep this?” Regardless of my reasoning it boils down to a “yes” pile, a “maybe” pile, and a “no” pile.
    Now here is the hard part for me. I get rid of (give away) the “no” pile AND the “maybe” pile. The “maybe” pile is usually the trinkets or “what if it is useful later” items that usually never get used, even after 4 years of hanging on to it.
    It is always tough on me, more so emotionally, to do this but it works really well for me. I have avoided a hoarders/packrat mindset because of it. Maybe it can help someone else too.

  9. I think everyone needs *Someone* to encourage this project* to get started. * Alone… it simply cannot get done. .. We think that everything has sentimental reminders or meaning.
    We are our own cause of this *junk overload that needs clearing out~~ Just ask a friend to help you get started and push you along to get going Just like we did to teach our children learn to ride bikes…
    Believe me ~ you have that new beginning feeling when you finish purging~ and look around… you will be glad you did it `

  10. Sure show some super tips. Dr. Schuller used to say “Its a cinch by the inch” and I can hardly wait to get started. Hmmmm, how come I have dust on my burgandy bedroom walls????? Sounds like I have a big job to do and to tell the truth, I can hardly wait to get started.

  11. Re: Decluttering — While I agree with some of your recommendations, I take exception to some: “THROW OUT any expired prescriptions”? Yowza! Soil and water contamination, anyone? Used Rx’s should be returned to the pharmacy for proper disposal. Also, the trash bag with the newspapers, magazines, boxes and wrappers should NOT be placed with used candles, etc. They should be RECYCLED. I’m disappointed that the mention of recycling paper and plastic items is not mentioned in your article. For shame. Also, one does not want to drop keys and sunglasses into the same bowl, unless beat-up and scratched sunglasses are not an issue. A divided bowl/plate or two-part container would work much better.
    These recommendations speak of poor research and irresponsible journalism.
    Please re-think these particular segments. Thank-you for your consideration.

  12. I regularly declutter my home on a monthly basis. I have this nice over sized recycle blue bin that the city picks up every week. I always toss flyers, plastic bags, wrapping paper, boxes, cardboard, magazines,newspapers old paper back books,tins glass bottles and all packaging stuff from grocery store or any other store into the big blue bin for recycling. I can t believe how much we use is recyclable including those paper cups from Starbucks, and it does save by throwing it into a landfill.

  13. Good hints re de cluttering. We plan on moving this year, so it is very timely. It is rather shocking to realize how much is accumulated over the course of 22 years.

  14. Helpful hints for de-cluttering with gusto! I’ll try some, but not all.

    One thing I’d like mention — any expired medications should NOT be thrown in the garbage or flushed down the toilet. Expired meds should be taken to a pharmacy to be destroyed. Various prescription, over even over-the-counter medications are a toxic soup in landfills and water systems. This equally applies to any lotions, creams, old chemical cleaners, paint thinners, household products etc that should never go to landfill.

    Ruthless, mindless throwing out stuff, without regard to the consequences is the side effect of owning too much stuff!

  15. Thankyou for the very practical get down to it, decluttering tips. All Good.
    Even though, an item might not have a value to an individual, and should be decluttered to make life easier.

    I would suggest you emphasis how decluttering can give NEW life to the innate value in all items we have. Paper and magazines can either be recycled or some given to offices (magazines) for patients to read.

    Old bottles of prescription drugs SHOULD not be pitched in the garbage. This is a huge environmental problem, contaminating ground water and emitting hormone disrupting chemicals. Better to take back to your pharmacy or find out where your medication recycling takes place

    Chemicals under you sink can go to a hazardous waste disposal organization most cities and towns have these. please google hazardous waste disposal and your town name.

    Old items that are usable can go to the Salvation Army, Value Village, etc. EVERY produced item has value. The dumpster is not the best place for most goods. But Decluttering is good.
    Food for thought.

  16. I feel very strongly against threatening children with getting rid of their belongings, or disposing of their possessions without their permission! I feel it is very damaging to their self image and makes them feel threatened within their own home! This was my mother’s approach and, I have to say, if anything, it made me more of a hoarder and very insecure about anybody touching my belongings! I have a very difficult time getting rid of anything! And it certainly didn’t help my relationship with my mother, either! If you have problems with kids and their belongings, involve them in the tidying up process and the decisions on what to keep, where, and what to dispose of or give away! Buy, or design, child friendly storage that they can easily use and organize!

  17. I have two questions when I declutter and when I go shopping. IS IT A NEAT OR A WANT? IF IT IS A WANT, WILL I USE IT MORE THAN TEN TIMES OR WILL IT JUST TAKE UP SPACE>

  18. Please do not THROW OUT prescriptions drugs – they pollute our water and landfills. Take them to your pharmacy, and they will be disposed of properly.

  19. Decluttering is always a problem for me. I do spend a lot of time re-organizing and not throwing enough away. . We have bottles to return for deposit and a recycling bin for the curb; as well as old toys and memorobilia, shelves of photo albums. I fall into Ikea effect. Declutter is at top of 2016 resolutions, as it was for the last “many” years!

  20. Isn’t it time to start including recycling of items when giving helpful hints? Also, unused medications including over-the-counter and prescriptions can be taken to many pharmacies/drug stores for safe disposal, [here in Canada]. Keeping items out of our landfills and drugs out of our drinking water it imperative. A pet peeve of mine is how recycling is NOT portrayed and throwing out or flushing of medications down the toilet is portrayed as ok in movies, in print, on the web, and on television! Given the huge world-wide attention given to the Climate Change Conference in Paris, I believe it’s time that the media reflect the right things we are supposed to do (where ever we can) and especially to educate their audience. Thx for letting me rant!

  21. Timely. I have started the process. Some things just have sentimental value. It’s the memory that we don’t want to forget. Take a picture of it and get rid of it.
    I sell anything I don’t want on the local Buy & Sell site, or offer it for free. I have a box labelled “Garage Sale” Unwanted things go in the box and saved for summer garage sale. What doesn’t sell goes to a thrift store.

  22. In the winter when I am not gardening ,I choose a closet or a drawer everyday and purge. I also made a rule a few years ago when I had messy teenagers that if they received gifts or bought something new that they had to bring me two items . One was something broken used up or expired that could be thrown out and another that was something they could no longer use and could be given away or sold. I did this so the contents in our home would continually downsize. When our one son left home before this rule we ended up doing Nine pick up loads to the dump. I also apply this rule to my and my husbands belongings because nothing is worse then having to pack up and get rid of decades of things when you go to a nursing home or have to clean out a relatives home upon their death. I will not leave that burden for my kids.

  23. My husband takes care of that as l am disabled but he gives things away to challenge handicap store witch is good of him but it would be nice if he lets me know what he gives because when I go looking for something for quite awhile,he says oh I gave that away. I always asking him to let me know next time he never does. I should be glad or I would keep everything. I do have a closet where I keep special items , like my grown girls first dress shoes.etc . I told him don’t touch my closet or will go through his fishing and hunting things it works lol This is my first time on here so I hope what I said was ok God Bless everyone cathy

  24. I declutter my home every 3 or 4 months. I am delighted to see that so many people know about recycling what they aren’t using, but, more importantly know that any type of drugs must be taken to a pharmacy for proper disposal. Keep up the good work people.

  25. Just a reminder: Do NOT throw out old batteries in the garbage. Many places you can take them too (including IKEA) for safe disposal.

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